Our first trip after the Covid19 lockdown was a day trip to County Clare. First stop of the day was the Aillwee caves (https://www.aillweecave.ie/), one of Ireland's premier show caves.
We knew this visit would be a success with the boys, especially the birds of prey. When we arrived, the gate was just opened. After we donned our masks, we headed towards the visitor check-in desk which was well organized regarding social distancing,...
We had purchased our tickets in advance, and after checking in, we were told to wait in one of the social distancing squares painted on the floor. Each family present were kept well away from each other and the groups taken on the tour were much smaller as usual which allowed for greater social distancing.
So the Aillwee caves is a cave system in the karst landscape of the Burren and can be called young in cave terms... The cave was submerged for a long time, hence the reason that the Aillwee caves are called young and lack the formation of huge stalactites and stalagmites. The cave was discovered back in 1944 by a local farmer who at the time only entered the cave for a small distance.
After his visit to the cave, he didn't mention the cave to anybody until 30 years later when he told visiting cavers about his discovery.
The cavers decided to go an an adventure and went further into the cave, thus discovering a fabulous subterranean world, one which was formed by drainage water. In the Burren, due to rock karstification, water seeps between the rocks to form subterranean rivers which create cave systems like the Aillwee cave system.
The tour through the cave takes about 30 minutes, and while your guide explains you all about the formation of the cave, you will cross bridged chasms, discover stalactites and stalagmites, admire a frozen waterfall and see bear bones which were discovered during works carried out to make the cave at it is today.
At the end of the cave is a waterfall which comes thundering down pending the weather on the outside. And we were told that this part of the cave tends to flood during high rainfall (in winter).
After the tour, we headed down towards the Birds of Prey where we were seated on one of the stands. Again, it must be said that social distancing was taken into consideration, and we would like to recommend the great work done by Aillwee caves in regard to social distancing and personal hygiene through the provision of hand sanitizing stations.
The first bird we got to admire was Jesse the owl . Jesse was very noisy and kept hooting, probably giving out about having to perform after weeks of lock-down.
The next bird was a falcon which was eager to demonstrate its flying skills and amazing flying speed. After a very educational show, it was time to visit the aviaries which housed many birds of prey. There was even a photo opportunity for the boys with one of the birds of prey.
After the show, the foodie in us came out and forced us to go into the farm shop where they make Burren gold cheese. So when our visit came to an end, we reflected back on the Aillwee caves which we would highly recommend as the perfect family attraction.
The organization by the Aillwee caves regarding social distancing and provision of hygiene stations is impeccable .
About the Author
We are Peter & Dolores De Bie. We love the great outdoors, discovering new parts of the world and writing about our adventures along the Wild Atlantic Way and further afield